Client Name: Wonderspaces
- Conditional Use Site Plan
- TABC Rules Analysis
Wonderspaces, an immersive, interactive art gallery in Austin, recently received a conditional use site plan to allow a cocktail lounge for patrons.
- The success of this project was complicated by two factors. First, the gallery occupies several contiguous suites within a partially developed office-warehouse site. The initial site plan for the project was complicated in its own right, which made preparation of the CUP site plan complex and challenging. An in-depth analysis of existing conditions compared to proposed improvements approved with the 2014 site plan was required in order to accurately reflect site features such as the parking summary, site and building data, residential compatibility buffers, and TABC buffers on the CUP site plan.
- A second challenge involved the proximity of the project to an elementary school. From the start, the client knew that the location within this industrial park was close to but not within 300 feet of a nearby elementary school. However, demonstration that an alcohol separation waiver was not required called for additional analysis, research, and consultation with City reviewers. Masterplan identified an error in the City’s GIS mapping that omitted an existing electrical right-of-way that separates the school property from the industrial park, and a previous interpretation by the City’s Legal Department allowed measurement from the lease space of the business rather than the property line of the site for the purpose of determining the separation distance with respect to the TABC prequalification packet.
- Finding a quality partner to prepare a CUP site plan during this period of rapid development is a challenge. Local civil engineering firms seem to have an endless backlog of projects, and most projects have a much larger scope and budget. Masterplan worked with a strategic partner who was willing to take on the job and work it into their workflow knowing that Masterplan would conduct all of the analysis and provide detailed mark-ups of the revisions required to clear City review comments. To address alcohol separation requirements, Masterplan obtained historic real property records and consulted with public sector and private sector TABC experts to resolve all misunderstandings that City review staff initially had regarding the proximity of the public school to the proposed cocktail lounge within the art gallery.
- Once City review comments were cleared, the public hearing process went smoothly. As Masterplan typically does with zoning requests, communication with surrounding property owners was established early in the application process. After discussing the request in more detail with interested parties, there were no concerns or oppositions expressed during the public hearings to consider the request.
- Although the additional time and effort required to prove that the distance separation requirements from churches, schools, and parks are satisfied were not initially anticipated, the positive result was well worth it. Masterplan is pleased to have been a part of bringing this unique cultural experience to Austin.
Karen Wunsch, AICP
Managing Director, Austin
A long-time Central Texas land use and zoning leader, Karen Wunsch brings more than 25 years of real estate industry experience and leadership to her role as Managing Director of Masterplan’s Austin office. Since joining Masterplan in 2014, she has helped clients navigate zoning, platting, and permitting processes to get projects approved and completed.